See Ya Later Facebook

Over the years we have seen social media apps/platforms come and go. I’m sure some of you remember things like ICQ, MSN Messenger, Myspace and even Napster. If you have never heard of those or never had a chance to use them you make me feel old. Those names are associated with some of the earliest forms of modern day social media. Social media dates back further than ICQ and MSN as you can see in this infographic of the evolution of social media. 

Infographic by Simplify360

Infographic by Simplify360

In recent years we have seen young people leaving Facebook and heading towards Snapchat and Instagram. It is no longer considered cool to be on Facebook. Why you might ask? Well according to teenagers they don’t want to use Facebook as often because “old people” use it. Teenagers dread the day when parents add them on Facebook. Most teenagers agree that Facebook is used to keep in touch with their older relatives. I think that keeping in touch is much different than updating older relatives on their daily lives and what is happening at this very minute. That is where Instagram and Snapchat come in.

If you are unfamiliar with Snapchat check out this guide for parents and teachers to help you understand it a little more. To see what draws teenagers to Snapchat check out this interview with a 13 year old girl describing how to use Snapchat and why she likes it so much. I believe teenagers love to connect with their friends. When I was young I was constantly on the phone with my friends talking about boys, gossiping, being silly and just “hanging out”. The worst part about that was your parents picking up the other phone and maybe catching some of the conversation you didn’t want

Photo Credit: melissaellos via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: melissaellos via Compfight cc

hear. Or having to answer a call waiting, or having to say good bye because your parents needed the phone. Any chance I got though I was on the phone. When MSN came along I was often on MSN doing the same things I did while I was on the phone but the best part was I could chat with multiple people at a time. Sometimes on the phone I could connect with two friends at once by using a three-way call. The technology I used back then was different, but I was still using it to connect and share with friends. I was using it to socialize.

The difference today is that teenagers are able to connect with more people and in different ways than we were able to. They can be silly by sending Snapchats. They can share pictures and videos using Snapchat or Instagram from vacation so their friends can see how their trip is. It’s easier to share pictures and videos on the go than to come back from vacation and have to explain everything to your friends right? Like Heather said in her blog, it is about immediacy. Teenagers love the instant connections.

I mentioned earlier why kids are leaving social networks and a lot of it has to do with older people using the network that young people are leaving. It makes sense right. When I had to talk on the phone with my friends, if my mom came into my room I would stop talking. If I was in the basement talking and she came down I would take the conversation elsewhere (as long as I had a cordless phone). It’s the same reason kids are leaving social networks their parents are joining. My question is what will happen to things like Instagram and Snapchat? I am not a huge fan of Snapchat and don’t use it that often so I can’t see my Mom or Grandma using it. I have already had my Mom join Instagram and feel like my Grandma would too if I didn’t share my Instagram pictures to Facebook so she can see them. If older people continue to join Instagram will younger people start to leave it too?

I have seen a change in the way my friends use Facebook over the past few years. It is on a rare occasion that people update statuses. Some share their own videos and pictures. Most share articles or memes. I find that a lot of people use Facebook to “creep”. I have found that I use Facebook mostly to connect with my relatives and share pictures of my kids so they can keep updated on how my family is doing. I sometimes update statuses and but hardly ever update pictures of myself. My profile has been taken over by my kids. I have recently found that I am annoyed at the advertisements and was especially annoyed during the Canadian election last fall when it became a platform for people to share news articles and updates on the political parties. I joined Facebook  to connect with friends and family and lately it seems it has gotten away from that.

After reading Luke’s blog and watching the #being13 documentary I do think that with the increase in social media comes the increase need to teach children about digital citizenship. We know that students will be using social media and we know that it can sometimes lead to problems so how can we prevent problems from occurring. There are some great resources available from Common Sense Media and Edutopia on teaching Digital Citizenship. We need to remember that it’s never too early to teach about Digital Citizenship but it can quickly become too late.

What do you think the future of social media looks like? Will Facebook be phased out? What will happen to Instagram and Snapchat if older people start to use it? How has your social media use changed over the years?

Taking a Closer Look at Sexting.

3865015054_c294180eb8

Photo Credit: sebilden via Compfight cc

I can’t quite describe how I felt after watching the CBC documentary Sext up KIDS. I was a little sad, sympathetic and somewhat worried but I was definitely NOT shocked. It isn’t news to me that kids – especially girls- are growing up way too soon. I have seen many of my little cousins grow up way too soon. Why do little girls want to grow up so quick? I think it is clear that there is a lot of pressure from the media for girls to want to grow up quick. Billboards, music videos, actresses, television ads, clothes, movies and so much more contribute to the pressure girls face to grow up. They are constantly exposed to images of women who are made up to look ‘perfect’. They see ads that sexualize women. They see women in music videos dancing provocatively wearing very little clothing. What is a young girl to think about her image when she grows up being exposed to all of this??

Girls are taught at a very young age that they need to look a certain way. The media pressures them to act and look a certain way to please others. Girls looking for attention from boys may take selfies in which their image is filtered to look its best. Worse than a simple selfie is taking a naked or semi-naked photo to send to a boy, otherwise known as a sexting. Kids (and even adults) often forget that once a picture is sent, it can be shared over and over. Sexting has required law makers to look at what is happening and develop new laws to prevent taking and sharing of sexual pictures.

10817149725_5e94fd9bfa

Photo Credit: Pro Juventute via Compfight cc

How Teens View Sexting by CBC looks at a variety of issues and findings regarding sexting. There are five sub-heading discussed in the article. Below you will find each sub-heading with a brief overview of the discussion.

  1. Sexting seen as an adult term. In the study titled Young People and Sexting in Australia  students surveyed said that they didn’t consider sexting to be an accurate term. It is a term used only by adults and they consider their images simply pictures
  2. It’s all about consent. Teens don’t have a lot of issues with the images themselves but the issues arise when the images are shared without the consent of the person in the image.
  3. A ‘culture of slut-shaming’. We are still trying to learn the boundaries of technology and deciding what is private and what is not. An image may be sent as self-expression or to show trust but if that trust is violated the girl is usually labelled and blamed.
  4. A gender issue. It is often the girls who are called sluts and labelled when they take a picture of themselves. The girl is usually blamed in a situations involving sexual behaviour. It hasn’t been until recently that we have began to discuss what the expectations are for males in relationships and what their responsibilities are when it comes to sexting. We forget that girls have sexual desires too and feel a need to satisfy them. It isn’t only boys who want to flirt or fulfill their desires.
  5. Change the Law? Two young women, Maryellen Gibson and Alice Gauntley, interviewed for the article want to see laws change around the non-consensual sharing of images. Gibson figures that if the images are shared consensually than there shouldn’t be any concerns. It isn’t until the images are shared non-consensually that laws should be considered.

I agree with a lot of what the girls had to say. I do feel that girls have always been the target of name calling and blaming even before sexting was a thing. It seems that no one remembers the male but will always remember the female from a situation. I don’t recall Bill Clinton receiving as much of the blame or shaming as Monica Lewinsky. Do you happen to know the male who was in Paris Hilton’s sex tape?? I didn’t until I looked it up just now (FYI his name is Rick Salomon). Remember the girl from the Calgary Stampede threesome, Alex Frulling? I bet you don’t remember the guys names…were they even ever mentioned? I don’t recall them ever being mentioned but I remember hearing days after the threesome was recorded that Alex Frulling’s Facebook and Instagram follows sky rocketed. Why does it matter that we don’t know the guys involved? It matters because no one seemed to care that they had no shame in partaking in the threesome in the corner of a parking lot. It matters because no one thought they were awesome for doing it. Nobody started following them on Facebook or Instagram. We are so quick to ridicule the females involved, but we rarely pay any attention to the males involved. That is something I hope changes in the future. We need to teach our children that it is not okay to have double-standards.

In terms of the laws, I don’t necessarily disagree with the comment that images being shared consensually shouldn’t be illegal BUT I do think that it should apply only to people over 18 years of age. At the age of 18 you are considered an adult and should be able to choose if you would like to send an image to another adult. The issue would boil down to the sharing of that image. I don’t want anyone to think that I am pro-sexting or think I’m all for it but to each their own. If that is what two adults decide to share with one another there should be no criminal actions. It is important to remember though that any image that is sent can be saved forever. If images were consensually shared, what happens if you decided that you no longer want the other person to have that image? Break-ups and divorces happen all the time. The saved images can become a problem after a break-up or divorce.

I decided to look into the laws surrounding sexting and I came across a few good finds. The first is this blog: Sexting and the Law in Canada from Kids Help Phone.  I was surprise to read a few things in this blog:

Most sexting images exchanged by teens qualify as child pornography, if there is nudity in the image.However, there is a narrow exception set out in the Supreme Court of Canada case of R. v. Sharpe, that may exclude the exchange of sexual images between intimate partners, provided that the sexual relationship is legal (that is, complies with age of consent restrictions) and the images are kept exclusively by those two people.

AND

Police have not prosecuted teens for consensual sexting in Canada.  However, there have been several reported cases of teens being prosecuted for child pornography offences where the sexual images were distributed more broadly, especially where there is clearly malicious intent.

Both of these quotes gave me a better understanding of some of the laws surrounding sexting. I am happy to hear that if images are being shared with others that you can be charged by the police. Hopefully this helps discourage people from sharing images without consent. In order for it to discourage people they must know about the laws. This is where we can step in and make sure that students are aware of the legal implications of sexting.

Sexting: Considerations for Canadian Youth created by Sexualityandu discusses how common sexting is, why teens sext and legal/privacy issues with sexting. It describes three categories of teen sexting:

  1. Exchange of photos solely between romantic partners in a relationship.
  2. Exchange of photos between two people not in a relationship but where one of the people sends a sext in the hope that it will help to start a romantic relationship between the two.
  3. Exchange of photos between romantic partners or the sending of photos from one person to another with the hope of starting a relationship but the photos are then sent to additional people (Pew Research Centre, 2009).

Category 2 and 3 are the categories that cause a lot of problems with sexting. This is where the legal issues arise for the most part. Category 2 makes me really sad to read. It is sad to think that sexting is used in hopes to start a relationship or to get someones attention. It is also sad that photos are being exchanged within a relationship but they aren’t staying within that relationship. As sad as it is, it comes as no surprise unfortunately.

It is important for us to be addressing these issues at a very young age. As Salem Noon from Sext up KIDS found with her iGirl Workshop for young girls it is often too late to wait until students are teenagers or pre-teens to address this issue. It may seem inappropriate, unnecessary and even feel uncomfortable to talk about at such a young age but the reality is that it needs to be discussed at a young age to prevent issues with sexting before it is too late.

Who are you? But more importantly, who am I?

There were are a lot of great articles assigned to read this week and they discuss topics that are very relevant my life right now.The theme of this week is mediated identities. How do we perceive ourselves and others online? Who controls what we see on our timeline? Who are we beyond the selfies and status updates? Some articles this week discussed heavy topics like break-ups, suicide, grief and depression. I didn’t realize that in a picture perfect social media world that such things existed (insert heavy sarcasm here). The sad reality is that beyond these “picture perfect” posts many people are struggling internally.

Photo Credit: Inspiyr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Inspiyr via Compfight cc

The first article I read that really hit me hard was Split Image. The reason it hit me so hard is because I can guarantee that there are so many others out there right now that are just like Maddison Holleran. So many others that are struggling on the inside but seem perfectly happy on the outside through a social media lens. Why is there so much pressure to portray ourselves as perfect, flawless, exceptionally happy? Why do we need to pretend that we are all of those things when in reality we are not? I believe it is because there is too much pressure from the media as well as our friends and family members who are only sharing the best of the best in their life. Too many people are busy comparing their lives to others. This is nothing new. People have always compared their lives to others.  The difference in society today is that we are bombarded on a daily basis with everyone’s picture perfect posts. Even the posts that are not picture perfect have an affect on us.

The Psychology of Healthy Facebook Use provides a simple solution to avoid negative health affects such as depression when using Facebook. The solution: stop comparing yourself to others.

“Because Facebook tends to serve as an onslaught of idealized existences—babies, engagement rings, graduations, new jobs—it invites upward social comparison at a rate that can make “real life” feel like a modesty festival.”

Comparing ourselves to others leads to feel insecure and insignificant. I know that I struggle with comparing myself to others on social media. I often see other post updates about their children who are they same as mine meeting milestones that my children have yet to accomplish. Sometimes I feel as though I may be doing something wrong or failing my children. I am quick to remind myself that everyone develops at different rates. Others are not the only ones who post updates about accomplishments. I also post accomplishments, celebrations, graduations and other “picture perfect” updates. When I post things I often ask myself why am I posting this? Is is to brag? Or am I simply sharing something I am proud of with family and friends? I in no way intend to brag or make others feel bad, but how can I be sure that what I am posting won’t make someone on my news feed feel that way?

I might not have to worry about the way I make others feel when I post something because thanks to the Facebook algorithm, my friend may not even be seeing things I am posting. What I think my friends and family are seeing can be quite different than what they are actually seeing. Some of my friends may be seeing different newsfeeds from me than others. In a lot of ways I am not in full control of what my friends and family are seeing on my behalf. The algorithms created by Facebook are based on our interactions with others, our interests and likes. It is interesting to think that my Facebook experience (as well as my google/internet experience) are controlled to a certain extent by these algorithms.

I also have no control over what friends post about me. I have asked friends and friend have asked me to take down a picture on Facebook or Instagram before. The picture may or may not contain something embarrassing but it may go against the online image that we are trying to portray. Maybe it had too much “arm fat” or too many “double chins”. Maybe the lighting wasn’t right or your outfit made you look fat. Whatever the reason, if it has been posted without my permission, I might have to ask my friends to take it down. But why should I have to take it down for those reasons?

The digital footprint that is created for a baby when their parents post on their behalf was also discussed in articles this week. I found Digital Birth: Welcome to the Online World to be very interesting. It was interesting to see where Canada sat in the rankings. I fell into three of the five categories having uploaded all the pictures described. I do not have a profile for either of my children or an email address. I do like to share pictures and updates about both of my kids so that family and friends can see them grow up. However, I try to avoid excessive updates and try to avoid updating hundreds of pictures because I don’t feel like people need to know every single thing my children are doing. I also understand that not everyone cares what my kids are doing on a daily basis. If I want to update grandparents with what my children are doing on a daily basis I can make a simple phone call or text them as opposed to putting it all over Facebook for everyone else to see. This is just my opinion and other classmates such as Branelle and Krystle have given theirs as well. I agree with Krsytle that sometimes making announcements on Facebook is so much easier than having to make a bunch of phone calls.

The last article that I thought was really interesting was in regards to break-ups in our digital world. So many of us post updates and share pictures of our relationships. Most people use the relationship status as an official indicator of our status. You may have heard the expression that it isn’t official until its Facebook official. But what happens when our relationship ends and we have a profile full of pictures and memories with our significant other? I have had to experience a break up in the digital world and I did exactly what Nick Bilton did (minus the hangover and bottle of whiskey). I deleted all my pictures, posts and even my Facebook account for a while. I ‘disappeared’ feeling that all eyes were on me until I felt that I could brave the world of Facebook again.

It is interesting to read about all the different ways social media affects our lives and in ways that are somewhat out of our control. How much of our life is really authentic? Both Jillian and Carolyn offer great commentary on this topic. Why can’t we post more about our struggles and issues? I think it’s because we don’t want people to feel like we are always complaining so we focus on the times that we look our best.

Growing up digitally.

I find that every week I am enjoying the assigned readings more and more. The problem with enjoying them more and more is that I have a lot more to say about all of them but I have a hard time gathering and organizing all my thoughts into a logical post. This week there were a few readings that really grabbed my attention. This post focuses on only one of the readings.

One of the first readings I want to comment on is the survey that was done by Media Smarts. The classroom-based survey was completed in 2013 by 5,436 students in grade 4-11 across Canada. It focuses on the role of networked technology in students lives. After reading through the executive summary there were a few pieces of data that I found to be very interesting.

“First and foremost, these are highly connected children and teens, most of who are accustomed to online access through devices that are portable and personal. This is a big shift from 2005, where the majority of students accessed the Internet through desktop computers at home. Today’s youth have multiple platforms to choose from to go online.”

This is a very important piece of information that we need to keep in mind when we consider digital citizenship and digital literacy. Students are connected now more than ever before. With the majority of students having access to portable devices it makes everything available in an instant. Students are able to share updates, photos, videos at the touch of a button. The ability to do an online search for information is at their finger tips at almost any minute. We need to understand how this changes the use of technology and the impact it has on things (both positively and negatively). Students no longer have to wait until they get home to access the internet to share or find information. I believe this has led to an increase in instant satisfaction/gratification. I have had students ask me if I had updated their marks online and two minutes later they leave the classroom, open their phone and check their mark. I feel like we all struggle to be patient and wait for information. It is hard when we always have access.

There were two stats that I found really interesting regarding the grade 4 students surveyed:

  • 25% of students have a cell phone
  • one-fifth of these students sleep with their cell phone at night

    Photo Credit: Vladimir Yaitskiy via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: Vladimir Yaitskiy via Compfight cc

I personally think that grade 4 is WAY too young, but that’s just my opinion (I hope I don’t offend anyone who’s grade 4 does have a phone). My husband and I always discuss the age that we think is appropriate for a child to have a cell phone. We bothfeel that they should have one by the time they are in high school. Why do we feel this way? I think we feel that kids become a little more independent when they go off to high school. They usually have a further distance to travel to get to school, they can go out for lunch on their own and they are most likely a little more responsible than a 10-12 year old. That being said, there area lot of other factors to consider. The truth is there is no right or wrong age for your kid to have a phone. The right age is whatever you feel is right for you and your children. Check out these questions to ask before deciding whether your child is ready or not for a phone.

The thing I found interesting were the differences between boys and girls, especially when it came to online safety and parent involvement. I thought that it was really interesting that girls have more rules than boys in place at home when using the internet. My guess is that parents are more worried about who their daughters are meeting online as opposed to what they are doing online. Having both a son and a daughter, I feel like I would be more worried about my son accessing pornography than my daughter being lured by a predator although both are definite concerns of mine. I also found it interesting that a larger percentage of girls than boys feel they can be hurt by online strangers and see the internet as unsafe. Why do girls feel this way? Is it from stories they hear in the media? Are their parents using scare tactics in hopes to prevent them from being caught in a situation they wouldn’t want to be in? Or is it because women, like Monica Lewinsky, for example seem to get the brunt of social shaming in a lot of cases?

After reading the executive summary I looked into some other articles that give advice on how to manage technology use and limits that encourage positive use of technology. We know technology isn’t going anywhere, so we need to learn how to manage it and use it properly. Encouraging our children and students to use technology in positive ways is a great way to try and change the way we see technology. Students need to know how to unplug and what to do when they unplug. It is important that we teach them to know how to function with technology and without it. Among the reasons students use technology, creativity such as making videos and civic uses were among the lowest reasons. We can easily change this stat by encouraging them to use technology to create videos for projects and assignments at school. We can encourage them to stand up and have a voice with a positive message. By encouraging students to go beyond simply connecting with friends we can change the way they look at technology as well.

My “Expert” Finds

In an attempt to prepare for my ‘expert’ discussion I decided to try and organize my thoughts into this post. My hope was that writing about it would guide me in my discussion and prevent me from rambling about nothing. All of my worries disappeared when we didn’t have to share last night although I’m sure I will have to share at some point so here it goes….

The two articles I have decided to share are “Everyone Says That Being a Good Digital Citizen Is Important…But Do We Believe it? Five Lessons Learned On Digital Citizenship” and “Turning Students Into Good Digital Citizens”. Both articles discuss how citizenship has changed and look at how we can better understand the use of technology by students in hopes to teach digital citizenship more effectively.

In the first article it starts off by asking if there are any students who are using social media and technology in positive ways? It seems that in the news we only hear about the negative side of social media and technology. With technology being more and more present in schools it is important that we teach students to be good digital citizens. Before we can teach about good digital citizenship we must first talk about issues that sidetrack us. The article presents five issues but I will only discuss four because the fifth is regarding the Children’s Internet Protection Act which is only applicable in the United States.

  1. What issues? Gaming addiction, online predators, sexting, cyberbullying, digital reputation, smart searching and knowing when to unplug are just a few of the issues relating to technology. It is important for you to determine which of these issues is most important to focus on for in your classroom.
  2. One life of two? For most students the digital world and real life do no exist separately from one another but rather co-exist. Because of this, it is important that we teach students about being responsible and respectful citizens in more general terms as opposed to in our digital life vs real life.
  3. Positive Adults. Adults are still trying to learn the complexities of the digital world and can be found struggling with what is appropriate and what is not. Adults participate in online shaming, email scandals and struggle with the appropriateness of using your phone in a meeting or when out with friends. If adults struggle, how can we expect students to understand how to use technology responsibly? It is important for adults to be positive role models and be willing to honestly and openly discuss online reputations so students can learn from us.
  4. Change perception. We need to focus on the students who are using social media in inspirational ways rather than always focusing on the negative uses of technology.

Lessons learned from a digital citizenship workshop.

  1. It’s not about the digital – it’s about the citizen. When laptops are used in schools the focus is usually on the technology aspect of it. We need to focus more on the citizen part of it.
  2. It isn’t about Facebook – it’s about what students bring to Facebook. Before the internet and handheld devices, teenagers would spend just as much time talking on the phone with friends or hanging out with friends. Students are using technology to connect with one another. “Understanding why young adolescents use digital media for good or bad, is still primarily understanding young adults—their needs to be part of a group, to be expert at something, to be recognized as an individual, and much more.”
  3. Is isn’t about unplugging—it’s about knowing what to do when you unplug. This is a very important lesson to learn. Our students need to know when to unplug and how to do something else. They need adults who can model this behavior as well.
  4. It’s not about being involved—it’s about having a voice in their learning. When students have a voice in their learning they are more likely to be involved. Why not allow students to create seminars or blogs about digital citizenship to share with other students and their parents. Take the AV club one step further and create a Digital Citizenship club where students can be advocates for digital citizenship.
  5. It’s not about parent nights—it is about true parent-teacher collaboration. Parents need to be involved and work with the school to help teach digital citizenship.

The article finishes by saying that digital citizenship isn’t something that should just be thrown into the classroom here and there as an add-on. It needs to be part of school culture and should involve everyone in the school on a daily basis. Just because students use technology on a daily basis doesn’t mean that they know how to use it safely and effectively. We must teach them how to properly use technology.

The second article I chose discusses similar things. It begins by looking at the term citizen and how it has changed over the years. It describes digital citizenship and argues that it goes beyond safety and civility. It focuses on the participation in worldwide online conversation that requires a set of sophisticated skills. It is important to identify these skills and attempt to teach them as a day-to-day skill set. The fact that technology evolves so quickly makes it difficult to have a skill set that is set in stone. One way that we can try to develop these skills is by creating assignments that require them to build these skills. For example, if the assignments require them to properly use a search engine, they will be more likely to properly use a search engine in their free time.

It discusses social responsibility regarding technology. Technology has eliminated physical borders and allowed people to connect with others across the world. A true digital citizen is someone who interacts with those in their local geographic community as well as those who are not in their local community. Skills that we learn from face to face interactions such as understanding body language no longer apply to online communication. We need a whole new set of skills to understand the words and messages we are receiving online.

In the article, Mark Frydenberg describes digital citizens as “someone who uses web-based communication and collaboration tools as part of his or her daily routine to share ideas, plan activities, and stay in touch with others”. His version of digital citizens blog, comment, like, chat, tweet, connect, and follow–they “live” on the internet and use it to stay in touch and build relationships, often with people they may never have met in person. He describes skills every student should have in order to communicate effectively online.

  • basic computer literacy skills (how to maintain a computer, use spreadsheets and databases)
  • basic web literacy skills
  • how to distinguish between information that is credible and deceptive
  • how to understand the difference between synchronous communication (chat, Skype, instant messaging) and asynchronous communication (e-mail, VoiceThread).
  • how to create a web presence beyond Facebook (blogs, wikis, Twitter, web sites, etc.)
  • how to tell the difference between personal and professional presence online (Facebook vs. LinkedIn)
  • how to use online collaboration tools.

Helen L. Chen agrees that these skills are important but argues that we cannot forget about skills such as critical thinking, written and oral communication, teamwork and the ability to adapt to new situations. Others agree with Helen and think it is essential that we teach students to think critically about the messages we see online.

Both articles shared similar ideas and stressed the importance of understanding what it means to be a digital citizen. They also suggest lessons and skills that we should be developing in an effort to create good digital citizens.

Here are some other articles that I found throughout the week.

Raising Digital Citizens

Digital Citizenship

What should I teach my kid about safe online behaviour?

Walking a Mile in Someone’s Headline. The importance of digital citizenship.

You’ve probably had somebody ask you to “walk a mile in my shoes” before. Monica Lewinsky has given this idiom a new spin by asking people to walk a mile in someone’s headline. In her TED talk: The Price of Shame she describes her experience with public shaming during a time when the internet was just beginning to blossom.

Just like Kystle I was only 12 years old at the time and never really knew much about this story when it was actually happening. Before watching this TED talk I hadn’t ever taken the time to read about the story and learn about what happened. I knew she had a sexual relationship with then President Bill Clinton, but I never knew how the information was leaked or how their relationship came to light. I didn’t know that she had confided in a co-worker who then began recording phone conversations between the President and Monica. I was surprised to hear that her conversations were recorded although I shouldn’t have been. I guess I thought that private conversations would have been harder to get ahold of back then. In today’s digital world this breach of information wouldn’t come as a shock to me. It seems that information is so easy to access and people are able to find private information through hacking or other means.

Technology has made it easier for people to share information and a lot of people aren’t afraid to share private information via social media. I would say that there are no boundaries or filters for some people when it comes to sharing things online. People are also quick to make comments and state an opinion behind a screen that they wouldn’t normally say out loud in person. This makes it easy for people to publicly shame another person online. Monica Lewinsky described how public shaming affected her life in such a negative way but she was able to overcome the shaming through the help of her family. She decided it was time to speak up and tell her story when she hear about Tyler Clementi’s story.  Just like Tyler, Amanda Todd also took her life after experiencing cyberbullying and online shaming.  Tyler and Amanda had private information shared online and made public for others to see. Neither of them wanted this information to be shared but it was.

Photo Credit: smileham via Compfight ccWe have seen so many different ways that private information has become public. Actor, Jennifer Lawrence, had her iCloud account hacked which lead to nude pictures of her being shared online. These were taken from her personal computePhoto Credit: smileham via Compfight ccr and the pictures weren’t meant to been seen by anyone else. She was able to stand up for herself and made some pretty impressive comments fighting back against the negative comments she was receiving. Maybe it was easier for her to stand up because she is a celebrity and has more power than a regular joe. Maybe she was able to speak up because she had a valid point…the information was on HER computer. Her computer that she thought would be a safe place for such pictures to be kept. I suppose the lesson here is that nothing is safe from being hacked.

In my opinion if something happens in public then I would consider it fair game. If it’s something you don’t want to be shared then keep it behind closed doors. But is there really such a thing as closed doors? Look at the Tyler Clementi story in which he was behind closed doors and was being recorded unknowingly. Look at Jennifer Lawrence whose private information was hacked. Can we ever be sure that our information is safe? I think that anything we have on a device is at risk for being shared. It is important to think about the access to our devices that people may gain and be thoughtful about what we share. It is important to remember our digital footprint.

The screen seems to provide a mask that some people feel safe hiding behind and name calling. The screen somehow makes some people forget to think about how their comments will affect others. I was shocked when I read Danielle’s blog and saw the comments people had made about her grade 1/2 students! As soon as someone comments with their opinion, others have to chime in. It is almost like mob mentality in some cases. Jon Ronson describes the case of Justine Sacco in which she made one tweet that changed her life in a matter of a 10 hour flight from England to Africa. The mob mentality took over on twitter and the masses had a hashtag trending to get her fired by the time she landed in Africa.

The power of social media and the impact of it is remarkable (not always in good ways). It is important for us to think about the role digital citizenship plays in all of this. Mike Ribble describes nine elements of digital citizenship that can help guide us in conducting ourselves appropriately online. I believe that the two most important elements in relation to everything else I have been talking about are Digital Rights & Responsibilities and Digital Security. We have to remember that although we have the right to free speech, we also have to remember that it comes with responsibility. We also have to try protect our information as we would protect the items in our house.

I don’t think there is an easy solution to cyber bullying and online shaming, but documents like Saskatchewan’s Action Plan to Address Bullying & Cyberbullying and programs such as Sasktel’s iamstronger make me feel like we are on the right track. I was also happy to find out that criminal charges were laid in the cases of Amanda Todd and Tyler Clementi. Although the criminal charges can’t bring back the life of Amanda or Tyler it shows the severity of cyberbullying. Hopefully people think twice about the consequences of cyberbullying for both the victim and the bully. In order to help prevent cyberbullying I think it is important for us to teach our children and students to be empathetic. Cindy has written a great post and included some good resources about teaching empathy using technology. The more empathy we have the less bullying there will be. Like Monica Lewinsky says, next time you are tempted to comment or join in with the mob, imagine walking a mile in someone else’s headline.

 

Life beyond our devices.

Something that has constantly been on my mind during these first few weeks of class has been the discussions around our use of technology. We have questioned whether or not technology is connecting us or disconnecting us. Does it control us or do we control it? Can we really be in the moment if we are trying to capture the moment on our phone? So many great questions to really make you think. Every time I think about one of these questions I choose one side over the other until I give it a little more thought and find an argument in favour of the other side. I find myself going back and forth without every coming to a decision on which side I actually stand.

I have read some blogs that my classmates have done in which they raise a lot of good questions and provide thoughtful reflections on how technology affects our daily lives. Some of them feel the same way as me in terms of their stance on technology. It seems that we can all see both sides of the argument and can agree with both sides as well. One question that has been discussed in other blogs is whether or not we can be in the moment while we are trying to capture it with our device. Justine had an interesting experience on her honeymoon with selfie sticks and commented on an article that suggested we don’t remember the same amount of details from a situation if we take a picture of it as we would if we just took in the moment without our phone. This reminds me of the idea that if you write something down you will remember it more than if you simply listen to what is being said. I do think that if you put your phone down and really try to be in the moment that you can focus more on capturing it with all five senses. Being able to not only see what’s happening, but also hear the sounds and smell the scents will help you remember a moment more vividly. Ever came across a smell that triggered a memory? I have this experience often with soaps or lotions. If I used a specific scent of body wash on vacation, whenever I use that scent again at home it always takes me back to my vacation. That being said I can always look back at my pictures that I took to be taken back too so am I getting the same results from experiencing the moment or capturing it? Which is better?

14904483423_1f9d505fdePhoto Credit: Nigel Burley via Compfight cc

Genna found some interesting articles in her post that argue we cannot fully be in the moment if we are constantly on our phones. This article encourages us to “Put down the phone.  Be present and be in the moment. Enjoy the conversation of those that are physically with you, without glancing at a screen.” I believe that there is value to this statement but I also agree with Genna who says that taking pictures brings others into the moment as well. It is nice to be able to connect and share with others who may not be able to share in these experiences because they don’t live near us. That is one of the biggest reasons I share pictures and videos of my kids on Facebook. It helps keep my family members who don’t live near up to date with how my family is doing.

Sherry Turkle has her own views on technology and does research to see how technology has affected our ability to connect. In this Ted Talk Sherry argues that technology is making us feel more alone and the connections that we have online are not the same as the ones we have in real life. According to Turkle our devices are changing who we are and how we do things. One view that Turkle has is that technology has changed conversations. This is an idea that she speaks about in her Ted Talk as well as her article: Stop Googling. Let’s talk. Turkle discusses how conversations have become less intimate and engaging because of technology. When conversations get boring we reach for our phone as long as there are other people who are listening to the conversation. I can agree with this to a certain extent because I have been guilty myself of doing this and have also seen others do it. That being said I cannot guarantee that when people reach for their phones it is out of boredom due to lack of conversation…I can only assume. Kirsten has some great thoughts on how conversations have changed and poses a great question about how technology affects introverts and extroverts in terms of communication. As a slight introvert myself I can agree that technology helps me communicate with others whom I may not feel as comfortable with communicating with in real life. I am sure there are other who feel the same way. Especially students who may be intimidated to come to us face to face with a problem or concern. That being said I do think that face to face is an important communication skill to have.

With all of these questions being raised, I decided to see what I could find on this topic of connectivity and technology. I cam across this video…yes it is quite long…and I found that only some parts were very interesting, but it is relevant. 

In an effort to keep this post from getting too long I will highlight some questions and points that I thought were really interesting from the video.

  • Technology can enhance our lives by taking us to places we may have never gone before. For example, we may take a hike on a path we may not have gone on before because we feel secure enough having our phones with us.
  • On the other hand, technology can take away from life as we “get lost” in emails or social media. We may plan on going for a run only to be lost in our phone and next thing we know we have run out of time to go for a run.
  • Is technology ubiquitous because it’s new? Are we at a peak? The panelists feel that we may be at a peak and are currently trying to adapt. It has been hard to adapt when we have had to do it so quickly.
  • Is technology really a problem? They argue that technology becomes a bigger problem when we have digital immigrants and digital natives in the same room. If a group of 12-13 year olds are together and on their phones, no one thinks it is a problem. Introduce a digital immigrant in that setting and suddenly the phones become a problem.
  • Has technology become an obligation as opposed to a luxury? It’s expected that we know how to use social media. If you don’t have a social media account you are almost a social outcast. I thought this was an interesting comment because I know people who aren’t on Facebook and I will talk to them about something from Facebook that they missed out on because they weren’t on Facebook. I have heard people complain that they didn’t know about something because they missed it.
  • Technology has limited face to face interactions and has changed the way we communicate. Communicating through technology is missing one major aspect of communication which is body language. It is very difficult for emotions to be shown and language can be taken out of context with unintended outcomes.
  • We don’t necessarily need to put our phones away, we need to stop being so passive and being more active with our phones.

There were a lot of other points discussed regarding technology in schools/work places and how can we control what students/employees do online? How do we manage our online profiles to makes sure that they are professional and that we aren’t stepping out of line. This video was also shared on the page and I thought it was really interesting. It is similar to the Look Up video. 

I have really been struggling with where I stand on the technology continuum. In my personal life I have really been trying to put my phone down more so that I can actually watch my kids grown up and experience real life with real people. I think that the most important thing is that we are trying to address the problems that we sometimes see with technology. We know that it helps us connect, but we can also see how it makes us feel disconnected. I agree with the panelists who say that we are still trying to adapt. Technology has evolved so quickly and we have been trying to keep up. In trying to keep up with technology I feel like we have left behind other important things like conversation, family and friends. But have we really left them behind or has technology simply changed the way we interact and connect with one another? I am still unsure of how I feel but I am happy that we are all thinking critically about technology and how it affects our daily lives.